UNESCO World Heritage Sites & Ramsar Sites in Uganda
UNESCO World Heritage Sites & Ramsar Sites in Uganda : Uganda being a tropical country, is truly blessed by nature starting with her beautiful rivers and lakes to terraced, ever green hills and mountains, spectacular birdlife and not forgetting a variety of wildlife which among many include the famous Big Five and endangered primates like mountain gorillas, chimpanzees and various monkey species such as the golden monkeys, Olive baboons and black and white colobus monkeys to mention but a few. Uganda is also among one of the environmentally diverse countries in the world with internationally recognized heritage and Ramsar sites.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
A World Heritage Site according to UNESCO is considered to be a landmark or area with legal protection by an international environmental and cultural organization like United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Two of Uganda’s national parks are recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites and these include Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Rwenzori Mountains.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Located at the junction of the plains and mountain forests, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has been described by UNESCO as an “isolated forest of outstanding biological richness.” This ancient forest contains more than 160 species of trees and over 100 species of ferns; and not forgetting the park is home to half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas.
As it is surrounded by one of the most densely populated rural areas in Africa, community benefits arising from gorilla trekking and other sustainable tourism initiatives may be the only hope for the future conservation of this precious site.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park is the second UNESCO World Heritage Site that we have in Uganda. The national park comprises the main part of the Rwenzori mountain chain which includes Africa’s third highest peak at 5109 meters above sea level.
The combination of spectacular snow-capped peaks, glaciers, V-shaped valleys, fast flowing rivers with magnificent waterfalls, clear blue lakes and unique flora contributes to the area’s exceptional natural beauty. The mountains support the richest montane flora in Africa, encompassing the charismatic giant lobelias, groundsels, and giant heathers which have been called “Africa’s botanical big game.”
Located in Kampala capital city, Kasubi Tombs is another of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Uganda. The tombs are a burial site for four kings of the Buganda Kingdom who are locally referred to as “Kabaka.” The site was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 and in 2010; the site was included in the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger.
Ramsar Sites in Uganda.
Ramsar sites are basically wetland sites that have been designated to be of international importance under the Ramsar Convention, which is an intergovernmental environmental treaty established in 1971 by UNESCO. There are currently 2400 Ramsar sites in the world, protecting 214,936,005 hectares, and 169 national governments that are currently participating. Uganda boasts of a number of wetlands that have been listed as Ramsar sites. All these sites are recognized by BirdLife International as Important Bird Areas as well as providing a vital habitat for other threatened plants and animals. Two of these wetlands are found within Uganda’s national parks namely;
Lake Mburo-Nakivali Wetland System.
Lake Mburo-Nakivali Wetland system is situated within Lake Mburo National Park in the western part of Uganda. This unique habitat lies at the convergence of two biological zones hence giving it a rich biodiversity. It supports globally threatened species of birds such as the Papyrus Yellow Warbler and the highly sought after Shoebill Stalk. This unique site also shelters two of the endangered cichlid fish species which have gone extinct in the main lakes. It is the only area in Uganda in which the impala is found.
Murchison Falls-Albert Delta Wetland System.
The Murchison Falls-Albert Delta Wetland System is found in Murchison falls National Park. The site stretches from the top of Murchison Falls to the delta at its confluence with Lake Albert. The delta forms a shallow area that is important for water birds, especially the Shoebill, pelicans, darters and various heron species. It is an important spawning and breeding ground for Lake Albert fisheries, containing indigenous fish species, and it forms a feeding and watering refuse for wildlife during dry seasons.
Other Ramsar sites in Uganda include; Lake Bisina Wetland System, Lake Nakuwa Wetland System and Lake Opeta Wetland System which are found in the Eastern and North-eastern parts of Uganda. There are also Ramsar sites in the Lake Victoria Basin in Uganda and these include; Sango Bay- Musambwa Island, Kagera Wetland System, Nabajjuzi Wetland System, Lutembe Bay Wetland System and Mabamba Bay Wetland System.
Tourists visiting Uganda on vacation are welcome to visit any of the above mentioned heritage and Ramsar sites as long as you accept to follow the rules and regulations set by authorities managing the sites. Ramsar sites are also among some of the top birding destinations in Uganda.